Statement to United Nations Security Council, 19 March 2003

Author: Joschka Fischer

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Statement to United Nations Security Council, 19 March 2003

Joschka Fischer

March 19, 2003

Statement by Joschka Fischer, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, at the Public Meeting of the Security Council on the situation between Iraq and Kuwait

Mr. President,

I would like to thank the Security Council Presidency for its excellent work at this difficult time.

The Security Council is meeting here today in a dramatic situation. At this moment, the world is facing an imminent war in Iraq.

The Security Council cannot remain silent in this situation. Today more than ever, our task must be to safeguard its function and to preserve its relevance. We have come together once more in New York today to emphasize that.

The developments of the last few hours have radically changed the international situation and brought the work of the United Nations on the ground to a standstill. These developments are cause for the deepest concern.

Nevertheless, I would like to thank Dr. Blix for his briefing on the work program. Germany fully supports his approach, even under the current circumstances.

The work program with its realistic description of the unresolved disarmament issues now lies before us. It provides clear and convincing guidelines on how to disarm Iraq peacefully within a short space of time.

I want to stress this fact, particularly today. It is possible to disarm Iraq peacefully by upholding these demands with tight deadlines. Peaceful means have therefore not been exhausted. Also for that reason, Germany emphatically rejects the impending war.

We deeply regret that our considerable efforts to disarm Iraq using peaceful means in accordance with SC Resolution 1441 seem to have no chance of success. Time and again during the last few weeks, we have collaborated with France and Russia to put forward proposals for a more efficient inspections regime consisting of clear disarmament steps with deadlines—most recently on 15 March.

Other members also submitted constructive proposals until the final hours of the negotiations. We are grateful to them for their efforts.

During the last few days, we have moved significantly closer to our common objective: Namely, that of effectively countering the risk posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction with complete and comprehensive arms control. Especially in recent weeks, substantial progress was made in disarmament. The scrapping of the Al Samoud missiles made headway: 70 of them have now been destroyed. And—Dr. Blix pointed this out—the regime in Baghdad is beginning under pressure to clear up the unanswered questions on VX and anthrax.

Iraq’s readiness to cooperate was unsatisfactory. It was hesitant and slow. The Council agrees on that. But can this seriously be regarded as grounds for war with all its terrible consequences?

There is no doubt that, particularly in recent weeks, Baghdad has begun to cooperate more. The information Iraq has provided to UNMOVIC and the IAEA are steps in the right direction. Baghdad is meeting more and more of the demands contained in the SC Resolutions. But why should we now—especially now—abandon our plan to disarm Iraq with peaceful means?

The majority of the Security Council members believe that there are no grounds for breaking off the disarmament process carried out under the supervision of the United Nations now.

In this connection, I would like to make the following three points:

•Firstly, the Security Council has not failed. We must counter that myth. The Security Council has made available the instrument to disarm Iraq peacefully. The Security Council is not responsible for what is happening outside the UN.

•Secondly, we have to state clearly under the current circumstances the policy of military intervention has no credibility. It does not have the support of our people. It would not have taken much to safeguard the unity of the Security Council. There is no basis in the UN Charta for a regime change with military means.

•Thirdly, we have to preserve the inspection regime and to endorse the working program because we need both after the end of military action. Resolutions 1284 and 1441 are still in force, even if some adjustments are needed.

Mr. President,
Germany is convinced that the United Nations and the Security Council must continue to play the central role in the Iraq conflict. This is crucial to world order and must continue to be the case in future. The UN is the key institution for the preservation of peace and stability and for the peaceful reconciliation of interests in the world of today and of tomorrow. There is no substitute for its function as a guardian of peace.

The Security Council bears the primary responsibility for world peace and international security. The negotiations on the Iraq crisis, which were followed by millions of people worldwide during the last few weeks and months, have shown how relevant and how indispensable the peacemaking role of the Security Council is. There is no alternative to this.

We continue to need an effective international non-proliferation and disarmament regime. This can eliminate the risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction using the instruments developed in this process to make the world a safer place. The United Nations is the only appropriate framework for this. No-one can seriously believe that disarmament wars are the way forward!

We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian consequences of a war in Iraq. Our task now is to do everything we possibly can to avert a humanitarian disaster. The UN Secretary-General is to present proposals on this. Yesterday, the Security Council declared its readiness to take up these proposals. With the Oil-for-Food program, the UN has provided sixty per cent of the Iraqi population with essential supplies. This experience must be used in future.

Mr. President,

A very large majority of people in Germany and Europe are greatly troubled by the impending war in Iraq. Our continent has experienced the horrors of war only too often. Those who know our European history understand that we do not live on Venus but, rather, that we are the survivors of Mars. War is terrible. It is a great tragedy for those affected and for us all. It can only be the very last resort when all peaceful alternatives really have been exhausted.

Nevertheless, Germany has accepted the necessity of war on two occasions during the last few years because all peaceful alternatives had proved unsuccessful.

Germany fought side by side with its allies in Kosovo to prevent the mass deportation of the Albanian population and to avert an impending genocide. It did likewise in Afghanistan to combat the brutal and dangerous terrorism of the Taliban and al Qaeda after the terrible attacks on the government and the people of the United States. And we will stick to our commitment in this war against terror.

Today, however, we in Germany do not believe that there is no alternative to military force as the last resort. On the contrary, we feel that Iraq can be disarmed using peaceful means. We will therefore seize any opportunity, no matter how small, to bring about a peaceful solution.

Thank you.

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Chicago: Joschka Fischer, Statement to United Nations Security Council, 19 March 2003 in Statement to United Nations Security Council, 19 March 2003 Original Sources, accessed November 29, 2022,

MLA: Fischer, Joschka. Statement to United Nations Security Council, 19 March 2003, in Statement to United Nations Security Council, 19 March 2003, Original Sources. 29 Nov. 2022.

Harvard: Fischer, J, Statement to United Nations Security Council, 19 March 2003. cited in , Statement to United Nations Security Council, 19 March 2003. Original Sources, retrieved 29 November 2022, from